Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today 88 volunteers from across Essex County will gather tonight for a 13-week domestic violence training program.
“While the primary function of the Prosecutor’s Office is to prosecute those who commit crime, prevention of crime is just as important,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray. “There are many families in crisis and the stress of the holiday season, particularly during these tough economic times, can cause simmering problems to escalate. Having skilled people in the community can literally save lives.’’
The sessions run from 6 to 9 p.m. They will be held at the Leroy Smith Building, located at 60 Nelson Place, Newark, behind the Essex County court house.
The goal of the program is to train volunteers, who are affiliated with churches and social service organizations, to assist victims of domestic violence.
“Very often the first place a victim of domestic violence will go for help is a church, mosque or synagogue – not the police,’’ said Pamela McCauley, coordinator of the Victim-Witness Advocate Unit of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. “We want to equip those on the front lines with the skills necessary to be able provide appropriate help to victims.’’
Clergy and others have sometimes referred couples, who are truly in crisis, to couples counseling which often is not appropriate in a situation where there is violence, McCauley said.
At today’s session, Asia Smith, a survivor of domestic violence, will speak about why victims stay and some of the myths surrounding domestic violence.
This is the fifth and largest training session held by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The training is designed to help volunteers identify signs of domestic violence and to respond appropriately. Volunteers will learn how the court system works, the impact of domestic violence on children, how to deal with diverse populations and related issues.